June 4, 2007

We Get Letters

By Paul Bieber

A couple of weeks ago Max Perilstein answered questions sent to his blog. I loved his column, so we are going to do the same thing today!

A gentleman from the Midwest asked what I thought the future of the glass shops would be.

Well, this could be a book by itself, but in one paragraph here goes. Glass shops need to become experts in quotations and installations. More and more glass is custom tempered, hi-performance IG, and lami. The day of the ‘plate glass replacement’ is gone. Glass shops will be stocking less products, depending on fabricators for manufactured products. Preparing job estimates that create profitable sales and giving outstanding customer service when the order comes in will separate the winners from the losers.

A lady from the Northeast asks “How can she compete with the large buying power of the auto chains who are slowly beginning to do flat glass?”

To me this is an easy one…great service beats pricing in just about every part of our industry. I never want to be the cheapest guy on the block. You may loose a job or two if price is the only criteria, but then realize that the person who buys on price only will never be a repeat customer. You’ll loose the next job for a dollar. The real money can be made from repeat business with a good paying customer.

The same is true in how you spend your money as well. Give your repeat business to the fabricators and distributors who give you the best service.

There was a hit-me-in-the-face note from a former employee at Floral Glass…”Paul, how can you tell everyone how important employee reviews are when you forgot to do mine one year?”

Oops! You have to set goals. And reach them just about all of the time. If you don’t reach every goal, learn from it. Look at your time management and make sure that if you can’t reach every goal, that you do the prioritizing, not the ringing phone. When you can’t do something, make sure you communicate the change to all concerned.

A glass shop owner from New York asked, “What should I concentrate my efforts on, managing my current business or getting more business?” I told him it was too broad a topic without doing a couple of days there to study his business, but, it is better to run what you have efficiently, rather than reach for the pot of gold. I also told him to make his shop the safest shop he could…the dollars spent on worker’s comp plus lost productivity from an accident can strain an otherwise successful glass business.

My last letter to share with you was from a glass shop in the Midwest. He stated that we are spending too much time and effort discussing low-e. He doesn’t push it in his shop because customers don’t ask for it. He stated that low-e is fine in high rises but will never catch on in middle America.

I politely asked him if he had a good shop and some decent equipment, because sooner rather than later, there will be an auction of his shop.